McLaren Vale is the spiritual home of Riot Wine Co, it's where wine maker Tom O'Donnell grew up and it's where he learnt his craft and fine tuned his art. McLaren Vale is also the home of Grenache in Australia with some of the oldest Grenache vines located here and the reason why Riot Wine Co has a Grenache and uses Grenache as the platform for Rosé.
"I love Grenache because it's always changing like the season or time itself. No two winemakers would make the same style from the same vineyard. It reflects the season, the region, the personality and is awesome, fresh drinking. You can watch the wine change and evolve over time but still know where it hails from." – Tom O'Donnell
Tom spends all of December and January each year walking vineyards searching for the best fruit ahead of harvest, this is one of the advantages of not owning vineyards, the fruit comes from whomever has produced the best. Always focusing on quality is in the cultural DNA of Riot Wine Co, some seasons this will result in varietals with geographic indicators (GI) and sometimes not, the fruit decides is origin and that's OK.
"When I'm looking for fruit I lean towards elevated blocks with an interesting aspect for example something that gets the morning sun, so the plant starts working early and gets only a little shade from the afternoon sun. Most important is to get a cool sea breeze to keep vibrancy, that is what make McLaren Vale so special. Vineyards to your left and beach to your right." – Tom O'Donnell
The winery is where the hard work really starts to become evident. Tom makes all of the wine and is in the winery almost 24/7 during crushing (separating fruit from stalks). All the fruit is then bag pressed to reduce oxidisation, by limiting the amount of time the wine is exposed to any oxygen. What separates a good wine maker from great is the skills in the lab, continuing to test, teak and monitor the transition from fruit to wine is why Riot Wine Co has the best product in keg and in can.
"With both the tap and can wine – I am a believer that you have to start with the end in mind. You can always spot a wine that wasn’t intended for its closure of format." – Tom O'Donnell
Once the wine is made it's time for packaging and this is what really differentiates Riot Wine Co as it is the only company 100% stored and poured in keg and in can. The beauty of stainless steel kegs and aluminium cans is they are not negatively affected by light (UV), oxygen or heat, they are the perfect vessels. "It’s such an anaerobic environment in can, not even any UV sees the wine until you pour it in glass – this is amazing for the freshness of the wine. It also means we only need about half the amount of SO2 to traditional bottled wine." – Tom O'Donnell
The kegs and cans are then shipped to warehouses awaiting orders from our customers and friends. The kegs are poured using nitrogen, an inert gas, so the first time the wine is exposed to Oxygen is when it is poured from the tap. it's like a new bottle is being opened for every glass. Likewise the cans are pressurised with nitrogen so that when is it cracked and consumed it tastes just like Tom tasted it in the winery.
"Our wines are social lubricant that brings frivolity, more of a ceremony of fun than a drink. It's not just about drinking but having a better wine experience. Whether you're drinking Riot wines with food, friends, on the water or at a restaurant, it will always be quality and will always taste fresh. That is Riot wine, and that is why I love making it." – Tom O'Donnell